The Wheatnet Switch is an X-Y router controller for the Bridge.
The number of cards used is dependent on the number of input sources
and total mix buses. Frames may be equipped with redundant DSP cards to
self heal should a DSP card fail. Mapping DSP cards with their
respective mixing surface and frame is accomplished using XP
Configuration GUI software.
The CPU card is a full-blown computer in a small package that
provides control for the router frame. It is a PC/104 computer with
RAM, Flash disk (in place of a hard drive) and an Ethernet port. This
device communicates with all the control surfaces, Ethernet controllers
and PC XPoint GUI software via TCP/IP. It is backward compatible with
legacy Wheatstone products that use RS-485 serial communications.
The Wheatnet Audio Network Card, as alluded to earlier,
connects a master chassis to a local chassis via CAT-5e or fiber optic
cable. This card also comes in a four-port variety for connecting
multiple frames, control surfaces or hubs together. An audio network
card transports as many as 64 bi-directional channels of audio.
Physical connections include two DB-9 connectors for RS-485, RJ-45 and
fiber optic ports for Wheatnet audio connections.
XPoint marks the spot
The XP (XPoint) Configuration GUI is a Windows-based
application that configures, monitors and controls the entire router
system. Audio source and destination connections are viewable at a
glance while sub-menus guide the user to configure hardware, channel
definitions and create connection salvos, cross-point locking and
While the XP Configuration GUI provides extensive configuration
and control options on a central PC, the Bridge Digital Audio Network
is also controlled by hardware and software interfaces. Rack- and
console-mounted XY controllers as well as TCP/IP-based button panels
provide tactile input selection.
Three levels of system access to XPoint protect the operation
from tampering or accidental changes. The software setup guides the
system administrator through Ethernet/IP address changes and various
system configuration menus. Each frame or tier must be configured
defining what type of card is installed in each slot position.
Most of the sub-menus will be rarely used once the system has
been configured. The Cross-point Grid screen will be the most
frequently used, perhaps on a daily basis. This 512 × 512 point grid
separates the sources vertically from the destination signals
horizontally. From here, signal definitions are created denoting the
channel name (in eight characters), mode (mono, stereo, 5.1 surround,
etc.) and the frame (tier), card and channel where the audio or logic
Routable logic works similar to its audio counterpart where
logic inputs (contact closures or button presses) are cross connected
to logic outputs. The duration of the output closure lasts as long as
the input state remains in a closed position. These logic signals may
be piggy-backed onto audio signals: i.e. when a microphone channel is
opened, a logic closure for tally is also active. As many as six logic
signals can be ganged together. Triggered port logic is a means by
which salvos are activated, such as a talk-back function for temporary
audio changes made by contact closures.
Despite the rapid pace to which our world is being reduced to a
keyboard, mouse and monitor, there is still a need for push-button
panels. Wheatstone has developed a line of TCP/IP-based button panels
for this purpose. Once assigned a static IP address, the GP series
panel can be programmed to perform specific audio routing and logic
Where more extensive control is needed, short of installing a
full-blown control surface, outboard XY Controller modules are used.
Each XY controller can access any source or destination signal within
the system, or be limited to a specific group of signals. Limiting
signal visibility prevents certain users from making unauthorized
changes. Signal visibility can be defined on the XY Controller GUI
software as well as on stand-alone XY controllers.
Wheatstone has a long-standing reputation in the broadcast
industry for durable, reliable and sensibly designed consoles. The
Bridge digital audio network system and the companion Generation series
consoles are no exception. During my recent installation, I was able to
witness first hand the commitment to customer service Wheatstone
provided from design all the way through to installation and final
configuration. We experienced a couple of software glitches in the
beginning that were troublesome, but they were resolved in a timely
As Wheatstone looks to the future, certain improvements such as
expanding the limited eight-character label size might be useful. I
found it tedious to locate a specific input or output signal on the XP
GUI, especially when you have to browse through 512 entries. It would
have been helpful to sort sources alphanumerically as opposed to just a
sequence of router channels.
All in all, the Wheatstone Bridge digital audio router system
is a well-designed and flexible system, keeping pace with the
ever-evolving nature of broadcasting.
Chestnut is assistant chief engineer of the Entercom Kansas City stations.
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